There’s nothing wrong with indulging your inner race care driver on your Xbox or PlayStation, but when you take your need for speed to the streets in Virginia, you may find yourself facing criminal charges. Drag racing is a form of reckless driving in Virginia that could land you in jail and take thousands of dollars out of your pocket in the form of fines. Another likely outcome is the suspension of your driver’s license, plus demerit points on your driving record.
Because reckless driving is a crime in Virginia, if you’re convicted you’ll have a permanent criminal record that could impede your ability to get a job, a security clearance, or to rent an apartment.
A charge of reckless driving for drag racing should be taken seriously. This is no mere traffic ticket that allows you to pay a fine and move on. The consequences of a conviction could affect your life for years to come, but with the help of an experienced traffic defense attorney you may be able to minimize some of those consequences and improve your outcome.
Drag Racing Defined
Virginia Code §46.2-865 makes it a form of reckless driving to participate in a race between two or more vehicles on public streets or highways, or in the driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business open to the public.
Consequences of Reckless Driving and Drag Racing
Drag racing can be either a misdemeanor or a felony crime depending upon the circumstances. The general rule is that a reckless driving charge for racing is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This type of misdemeanor is punishable in Virginia by up to one year in jail. The possible punishment also may include a fine of up to $2,500.
A conviction for reckless driving for drag racing also comes with a mandatory driver’s license suspension of at least six months. Your suspension can last for as long as two years. Additionally, you’ll get six demerit points on your driving record that will stay there for 11 years.
When Drag Racing is a Felony
Reckless driving for drag racing becomes a felony when someone is hurt or killed. Virginia Code §46.2-865.1 says that when an innocent bystander — someone who isn’t involved in the race — is seriously injured, the reckless driving charge is a Class 6 felony. That class of felony is punishable by one to five years in prison, or less than 12 months if a judge or jury thinks a lighter sentence is appropriate. You also may be fined up to $2,500. When the race causes someone’s death, the penalty is one to 20 years in prison, with a mandatory of one year served. Under either circumstance, the reckless driving must be “so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.”
When you’re convicted of either felony form of reckless driving for drag racing, you face a mandatory driver’s license suspension of one to three years. Virginia Code §46.2-867 mandates that your car be seized and sold if you’re convicted of felony drag racing.
Defenses for Reckless Driving and Drag Racing
When you’re charged with reckless driving for drag racing, in order to convict you a prosecutor must prove that you were racing. That involves proving there were two or more drivers involved, and that you were on a public highway or a church, school, recreational facility or business driveway or parking lot.
When the allegation involves racing on property belonging to a church, school, recreational facility or business, if you were authorized by the property owner or someone lawfully representing the property owner, you may have a defense to the reckless driving charge under Virginia Code §46.2-865.
Allegations that two cars were racing on a public highway likely are going be heavily dependent upon witness testimony that can be subjective and can vary from witness to witness. A criminal defense attorney with experience handling reckless driving cases involving drag racing will know how to evaluate all of the facts and testimony to attack the claims made by police and prosecutors and to present your side of the story.